What are consumers really thinking?
We’ve employed the same service vendor for almost a decade. The service has been moderately priced, and we’ve received moderate quality of service to match. Given that the owner is kind and very reliable, we’ve overlooked often rushed service and a few corners cut here and there.
When I think of our interactions, I’m always smiling and polite. How would they know that we’re not completely satisfied with the service we’re receiving?
The truth behind my smiles is that we’ve been on the edge of switching to a new vendor for several years and have been talking about it more seriously over the past few months. So, when I got an email requesting a reasonable pay increase – my initial reaction was that it’s time to pull the plug and make a clean break.
How close are your customers to pulling the plug and switching financial institutions? Will your next small product tweak or fee structure shift be the last straw?
Circumstantial evidence of polite smiles in the branch isn’t always enough to know what your customers are really thinking. While the ‘squeaky wheels’ let you know what is going well (and especially what is going poorly), many consumers do everything they can to avoid conflict, which, to many people, includes providing constructive feedback.
What holds people back from telling the whole truth?
Instead of thinking of it as a conflict, it’s important to realize that providing feedback is a powerful way to support someone, whether an individual or an organization. As the service provider, it’s your responsibility to create a safe atmosphere that encourages consumers to let you, or your team, know how they feel about their customer experience on a regular basis and not wait for an explosive error to give you very serious feedback - at which time it may already be too late to make amends.
How are you creating safety for your customers to provide candid feedback?
There are many venues through which to gather feedback, such as in-branch exit interviews, email surveys, and phone calls. Aside from formal feedback tools (which are very valuable), when was the last time you simply asked your customers, “How was your service today?” Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, what processes do you have in place to train and support your employees on their reactions to feedback? Their gracious, inquisitive acceptance of the feedback, and their actions on remediating any issues, are critical to creating a safe environment for your customers to respond genuinely.
By creating a safe environment and consistently asking for open, honest feedback, you’ll learn what is “wowing” your customers and what you can do better – before it’s too late!